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RIFF ON SETH

Seth Godin is a web powerhouse, a brand unto himself. He recently wrote about online v in-store retailing in a post you can read here. One disagrees with Seth with trepidation because this guy thinks deep thoughts and has proven highly successful in influencing others with those thoughts.


But Seth’s missed an important aspect of retailing. He suggests that “end caps and promotions and speed tables and other interactions will not be there because they are in the direct interest of us the shopper, but because they were placed there by the retailer to help generate income.”


He goes on to say, “Online merchants have done an extraordinary job of honestly presenting relevant information and drawing a bright line between editorial and merchandising. Which means that they’ve given up a huge amount of power. Since online merchants can’t make a particular item sell, they have far less leverage. They make up for it by selling everything, indifferent to which item you choose. In short, they’ve traded their power to you, the customer, in exchange for volume.”

Though some power has been ceded by the merchants, I believe that many consumers would prefer if the online world exercised a bit morepower than they sometimes do. And this is where in-store can beat online almost every time. I go to that dress shop or that bookstore or that salon because (a) they know me and (b) they curate for me. Yes, yes, I can read reviews and do my own searches and spend loads of time delving into my options and evaluating them but what I really want is for that merchant to know me and serve my best interests. The ones that do this well win.